Hugh Goold

Event Date: 
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - 18:00 - 18:15
Macquarie University

Australians Building Chromosomes: the ABC of finishing a synthetic yeast genome construction


Synthetic biology is a nascent field at the nexus of engineering, biology and chemistry. One of the most important synthetic biology projects currently underway is the synthesis of the world’s first eukaryotic organism. Comprising over 12 million base pairs of DNA on 16 chromosomes, the yeast genome is one of the most well studied genomes, and is an ideal template for understanding genome design principles. One ground breaking example of this is the SCRaMbLE system which acts as an expedited evolution system, making yeast 2.0 a unique metabolic engineering chassis. Other aspects of the massive undertaking of rebuilding the genome manually, include refactoring of stop codons, removal of tRNAs, delta sequences, transposons, and introns. This has resulted in a reduced synthetic genome with completely novel capabilities. A main goal of the consortium is to maintain wildtype-like growth in the synthetic strain. As the construction project draws towards completion, individual groups are starting to focus more on identification of and repair of ‘growth defects’ and construction errors in the synthetic chromosomes before the final task of joining all chromosomes together in a complete synthetic genome. Macquarie University’s Yeast 2.0 node is in the process of breeding synthetic yeast strains together and repairing errors in the synthetic strain. Various duplications in chromosomes 14 and 16 have been repaired with CRISPR/Cas9, segments of wildtype DNA have been replaced after next generation sequencing, and growth defects are in the process of being repaired and characterized.